The death of Queen Elizabeth II and the ascension of King Charles III have focused both those in and outside the United Kingdom on the British royal family. While family drama and the mechanics of succession have captured some of the headlines, many may wonder just how wealthy the Windsors are.
In this article, we explore some of the sources of the British royal family’s rumored massive wealth—along with some of the reasons why outsiders are likely to never know just how much the royal family is worth.
- The British royal family has accumulated a massive portfolio of properties, jewels, art, and other possessions over centuries of rule.
- Some of these holdings are in trusts and are no longer owned directly by the monarch.
- British Parliament provides a Sovereign Grant to maintain upkeep on royal properties and pay for various royal expenditures.
- Assessing the wealth of the British royal family is very difficult due to the vast array of holdings, the importance of historic or sentimental value, and a lack of public information.
Sources of British Royal Wealth
To begin to examine the wealth of the British royal family, we must first explore some of the sources of their riches. Some of these sources are more easily quantified or verified than others.
One of the largest sources of the Windsors’ wealth, as well as one of the most difficult to assess, is the family’s property holdings. The family owns a large portfolio of real estate, including well-known properties such as the Sandringham country estate, Balmoral Castle, the Duchy of Cornwall, and Windsor Castle. The 830,000-square-foot Buckingham Palace in London is also a part of this list.
Placing value on the Windsors’ properties is difficult for several reasons:
- It is unlikely that outsiders know of all of the many properties in the U.K. and elsewhere owned by the royals.
- Many of these properties have not been bought or sold for hundreds of years—King George III bought the property that would become Buckingham Palace in 1761 for the equivalent of just over $6 million in today’s dollars.
- Even if property values could be assessed using traditional tools, the fact that these properties are owned by the British royal family could add untold value in the eyes of investors.
The Duchy of Cornwall is a large stretch of property in southwest England that belongs not to the monarch directly but to his or her heir. Again, a direct assessment of value is difficult, but the Duchy reported £24.6 million (about $32 million) in operating profit for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2022. The Duchy of Lancaster is a similar property, owned by the monarch, which reported £23.3 million (about $31 million) in operating profit over the same period.
The collective properties of the monarchy are managed by an entity known as The Crown Estate. The Crown Estate is a corporation that was established by an act of Parliament and that manages the holdings of the monarchy through an independent council.
While The Crown Estate does not provide financial figures to its individual holdings, they are valued at £15.6 billion (about $20.5 billion) and generated £312.7 million (about $410 million) in net revenue profit by the end of the fiscal year, March 31, 2022.
The Windsors do not keep all of the revenue generated by The Crown Estate. Rather, they surrender the revenue to the British government in exchange for a Sovereign Grant from British taxpayers. The grant is equivalent to 25% of The Crown Estate’s profits and is used to pay for upkeep of properties and a variety of other royal duties. The Sovereign Grant for 2022–2023 is £86.3 million (about $110 million).
A major and controversial source of wealth for the royal family is the crown jewels. These include a multitude of rare and expensive jewels, crowns, scepters, and other royal paraphernalia. Among the most famous of the jewels is the Koh-i-Noor diamond, a 105.6-carat diamond either gifted to Queen Victoria or stolen by the British in the mid-19th century, depending on the perspective of historical sources.
Determining the value of a jewel like the Koh-i-Noor is also difficult. By comparison, in 2015, a flawless 100-carat diamond sold at auction for $22 million. However, it is likely that the Koh-i-Noor, to take a single example of a jewel in the monarchy’s collection, would sell for a substantial amount more. This is because of the value of the diamond based on its association with the royals and the value that other governments have placed on it. The Indian government is one such entity that has sought the return of the diamond over the years.
The Royal Collection is a set of more than a million art objects held in trust by the monarch. The king or queen does not own these artworks as a private individual. Among the pieces in the collection are countless items of decorative art, drawings, paintings, miniatures, and photographs. Due to the size and enormous historical value of the collection, it is difficult to place a monetary value on it.
Church of England
The monarch does not “own” the Church of England. However, since the time of Henry VIII, the monarch has been the symbolic head of the church. It is unclear to what extent the royal family may benefit financially, if at all, from this position. However, the Church of England is an organization with considerable financial assets—in its 2021 annual report, the church reported £148.1 million (about $200 million on Dec. 31, 2021) in total income.
How rich is the British royal family?
Assessing the wealth of the British royal family is difficult because of the vast array of its holdings, the historic value of these holdings, and a tradition of secrecy about financial particulars.
How much money does the British royal family bring in each year?
Properties in The Crown Estate, which manages the royal family’s properties, generate hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of operating income each year. The royal family gives up revenue from these properties in exchange for a Sovereign Grant to support their upkeep.
What is the Sovereign Grant?
The Sovereign Grant was established to provide 25% of annual profits from The Crown Estate to pay for the upkeep of royal properties as well as various expenses associated with the activities of the royal family.
The Bottom Line
While many have guessed, no outsider truly knows how much wealth the British royal family possesses. The wealth of the monarchy is wrapped up in a vast property collection, as well as collections of artworks, stamps, jewels, and much more. In many cases, the members of the royal family have given up ownership of these items and placed them into trusts, making a calculation of wealth even more difficult.